Do One Good Thing For Your Career Today
Maybe you’re here reading this blog post because you’re ready to take the next step in your career this year. Or maybe you’re here because you’re already taking those steps, and you just want to see if you can do more.
I feel you.
I love anything career-related, so recently attended a Jam Session at Ellevate with Miriam Grobman to learn more about how to build a meaningful one. She said a whole lot of powerful tips, but this one hit me in all the right places:
I’ve been thinking about the importance of soft skills ever since.
Why Soft Skills Matter
As opposed to hard skills –the specific knowledge and abilities required for a particular role–, soft skills are basically another way of saying that you need to have good people skills.
Think of effective communication, confidence, flexibility, acting as a team player, accepting feedback, creative thinking…
Every one of these are soft skills AND crucial ones if you want to get more visibility. Because sometimes the quality of your work through hard skills may not advocate for you.
Put another way:
I believe that while you can’t up your strategic soft-power game right away, there are some things you can do to improve your career today.
6 Ideas For Ways You Can Improve Your Career Today
1. Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback might be uncomfortable, but I think it’s the best way you can identify your own blind spots and opportunities for improvement.
So don’t be fearful to ask for it. Not only from your boss, but also from your peers and interns.
Have a performance review coming up? Good. That’s an especially good time to work on your ability to elicit useful feedback.
And if all the feedback you get is “you’re doing great; keep it up”, identify two or three things you need to work on and ask again.
You may actually be doing great, but we can all be better at something. 😉
Networking is a huge part of landing a job and helping your career grow. I’ve actually landed three out of the four jobs I’ve had from people I knew.
In fact, studies have shown that you are more likely to get a new job from a “weak connection” compared to a strong one.
This basically means that it’s more likely that your former co-worker’s college roommate’s girlfriend will give you a tip that the company of your dreams is hiring. That’s why you really need to get out there and meet people.
Your niche will have events. Find them. Attend them.
3. Get yourself a sponsor
Everyone talks about mentors (which are great!). However, you also need a sponsor.
A sponsor is someone who will fight for you when you’re not in the room. They’ll bring up your work and mention your name in senior management meetings and advocate for your promotion.
The question is: How do you get one?
Do great work. It goes without saying.
Create relationships at work. Up, down, and sideway.
Ask for advice, and when appropriate, ask for help to get that high-profile project, raise, or promotion.
4. Build your own personal “board of directors”
I like to think of this as my “squad”. A group of people who I’ve created relationships with over my career whose advice I trust.
To build yours, go for a diverse group. Both inside and outside your industry, both high level as well as down in the trenches.
And then use them! Ask for strategic advice when you’re in a rut or contemplating a new career opportunity.
5. Be a mentor
If you’ve ever had a mentor, you might want to think about paying it forward.
You can start mentoring any time, even if you’re in an entry level job. Those college interns? They could use some of your advice since you were just there.
If you’re a seasoned professional, you’d be surprised how much you can learn from someone younger than you; whether it’s the newest social media platform or understanding the latest consumer trend.
Information flows both ways.
6. Ask for the job, even if you’re not ready
You’ve probably heard the following statistic:
As Forbes puts it, “men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.”
Bottom line: Do NOT let the job description slow you down. Consider it more guidelines than rules, and go for the job that you’re interested in.
You’re probably more qualified than you realize.
Bringing It All Together
Well, would you look at that!
You just rolled through that list of 6 ways you can take control of your career, pronto. But don’t forget to also take care of the big-picture things you need to do when it comes to long-term career goals.
My biggest career goal in 2018 is to grow my side hustles (aka this blog, and freelance projects) while keeping my day job.
What about you? Do you have any career goals for this year that you’d like to share? 😊